H.3218 – Giving DHEC Additional Jurisdiction Over Private Dams

H.3218 expands the definition of “dam” to include dams which could cause serious damage to property or roads if they fail, and removes the specification that the Department of Transportation must be responsible for the road(s) subject to possible damage. This bill would also greatly expand the regulatory jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) over private dams.

Under this legislation, dam owners would be required to annually send a completed dam owner checklist along with the owner’s current contact information. Current law requires dams that constitute a significant hazard to also submit an emergency action plan, but this law expands that requirement to include more dams and requires that the plan include updated contact information for emergency officials and downstream residents and business owners.

Finally, the bill would protect dam owners whose dams are automatically reclassified by this bill from instant upgrade requirements unless there is risk of loss of life in case of dam failure, or DHEC inspects the dam and determines repairs are needed.

This bill would greatly increase DHEC’s regulatory power over privately-owned dams, thereby increasing the burden on property owners. This would be concerning in any case, but is particularly so when the agency in question has a history of arbitrary and unreasonable conduct to business and property owners.

It was stated in committee that this bill could increase our eligibility for additional federal funding if passed.

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